Student Financial Aid. The Company’s higher education division derives the majority of its revenues from U.S. Federal financial aid received by its students under Title IV programs administered by the ED pursuant to the Higher Education Act (HEA), as amended. To maintain eligibility to participate in Title IV programs, a school must comply with extensive statutory and regulatory requirements relating to its financial aid management, educational programs, financial strength, administrative capability, compensation practices, facilities, recruiting practices, representations made to current and prospective students, and various other matters. In addition, the school must be licensed, or otherwise legally authorized, to offer postsecondary educational programs by the appropriate governmental body in the state or states in which it is physically located or is otherwise subject to state authorization requirements, be accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the ED and be certified to participate in the Title IV programs by the ED. Schools are required periodically to apply for renewal of their authorization, accreditation or certification with the applicable state governmental bodies, accrediting agencies and the ED. Kaplan University is assigned its own identification number, known as an OPEID number, for the purpose of determining compliance with certain Title IV requirements. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Higher Education Act or related regulations could result in the restriction or loss of the ability to participate in Title IV programs and subject the Company to financial penalties and refunds. No assurance can be given that Kaplan University or its individual programs will maintain their Title IV eligibility, accreditation and state authorization in the future or that the ED might not successfully assert that Kaplan University has previously failed to comply with Title IV requirements.
ED regulations require schools participating in Title IV programs to calculate correctly and return to the ED on a timely basis unearned Title IV funds disbursed to students who withdraw from a program of study prior to completion. Kaplan recently determined that a procedural change that was implemented with respect to student financial aid refunds may not have been in accordance with the regulation governing return of financial aid for students who withdraw from a program prior to completion. Consequently, $8.4 million in estimated unreturned funds from prior quarters and year was recorded in Kaplan’s fourth quarter 2017 results; this estimated refund liability is included in current liabilities on the Company’s consolidated balance sheet at December 31, 2017. No restatement of prior period financial statements and no change in previously reported financial results was required due to the immateriality of the adjustment for the periods presented. Kaplan has self-reported this matter to the ED.
For the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, approximately $374 million, $437 million and $628 million, respectively, of the Company’s education division revenue was derived from financial aid received by students under Title IV programs. Financial aid and assistance programs are subject to political and governmental budgetary considerations. There is no assurance that such funding will be maintained at current levels. Extensive and complex regulations in the U.S. govern all of the government financial assistance programs in which students participate.
ED Program Reviews. The ED has undertaken program reviews at various KHE locations.
On February 23, 2015, the ED began a review of KU. The review will assess Kaplan’s administration of its Title IV and Higher Education Act programs and will initially focus on the 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 award years. On December 17, 2015, KU received a notice from the ED that it had been placed on provisional certification status until September 30, 2018, in connection with the open and ongoing ED program review. The ED has not notified KU of any negative findings. However, at this time, Kaplan cannot predict the outcome of this review, when it will be completed or any liability or other limitations that the ED may place on KU as a result of this review. During the period of provisional certification, KU must obtain prior ED approval to open a new location, add an educational program, acquire another school or make any other significant change.
In addition, there are two open program reviews at campuses that were part of the KHE Campuses business prior to its sale in 2015 to Education Corporation of America (ECA), and we await the ED’s final reports on the program reviews at former KHE Broomall, PA; and Pittsburgh, PA, locations. Kaplan retains responsibility for any financial obligation resulting from the ED program reviews at the KHE Campuses business that were open at the time of sale.
The Company does not expect the open program reviews to have a material impact on KHE; however, the results of open program reviews and their impact on Kaplan’s operations are uncertain.
The 90/10 Rule. Under regulations referred to as the 90/10 rule, an institution would lose its eligibility to participate in Title IV programs for a period of at least two fiscal years if the institution derives more than 90% of its receipts from Title IV programs, as calculated on a cash basis in accordance with the Higher Education Act and applicable ED regulations, in each of two consecutive fiscal years. An institution with Title IV receipts exceeding 90% for a single fiscal year would be placed on provisional certification and may be subject to other enforcement measures. Kaplan University derived less than 74% and less than 77% of its receipts from Title IV programs in 2017 and 2016, respectively.